The Controversy of the Camelback Christmas Tree

Camelback is one of the most popular mountains to hike in Phoenix and is also one of the hardest hikes.

Not everyone can make it to the top but if you do around Christmas time, you may be surprised to see Santa standing next to a Christmas tree greeting you.

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Camelback Mountain

This Phoenix Christmas tradition began years ago. A group of volunteers would go up and place the tree upon the top. When Christmas was over, they would take it back down. Hikers would come up and put their own decorations on the tree, leaving there own personal touch.

portrait of happy girl with ice cream

This caused a lot of controversy, seeing as how it does not follow the “leave no trace” policy of hiking.

While the tree would look super festive upon the desert mountain, sometimes the decorations would blow off and scatter around the mountain. Some hikers became upset and took it into their own hands to physically remove the tree from the mountain. But, this didn’t put an end to the tree. Instead the volunteers would simply replace the tree and the spreading of Christmas cheer would continue on.

man and woman wearing brown leather jackets

This year they have done things a bit differently to hopefully satisfy all the hikers. According to AZCentral, the tree is being taken down in the evenings and being put up again in the morning. Therefore, they are following the “leave no trace” policy while still being able to maintain this hiking tradition.

I can understand both points of views. It’s nice to bring joy to hikers with the tree and Santa at the top. But, I understand if decorations from the tree are littering up the mountain. So I think taking it down every night is a great solution to the problem.

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Although, it does seem that some hikers are still getting upset at this. The tree has been thrown from the mountain, two times this year. Physically, thrown off the mountain. Which, I feel completely violates the “leave no trace” principal, even more so than having the tree remain there overnight.

So, this hiker is happy and grateful for the volunteers who hike up and down Camelback to bring a slice of Christmas spirit to the desert.

How do you feel about this? Do you think they should stop putting up the tree or continue on?


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